I'm going to rant. I thought I should warn people.
Stop asking me if this is my last child, or if we plan to stop "now that we have our boy" or hinting that we ought to stop for similar reasons. A polite and genuinely interested inquiry about how many more we want is fine, but I find that everyone from the bagger at the grocery store to theneighbor up the street has to share his or her opinion on my family size. It's annoying, and frankly, I find it more than a bit rude.
I have three children. One is 16 and in a few years will be off to college and her own life. It's a situation that makes me feel like I really only have the younger two (and no, the youngest isn't technically here yet. Soon.). I don't want to stop at two. I believe that siblings are a priceless asset to children and families, much more important than a newer car, a boat, a bigger house or just more stuff. I'd rather give them a little brother or sister.
I'm not saying that we won't stop until we've hit a round dozen or anything like that. I'm not sure I have the grace for ten or twelve kids, but I don't want to stop at this one. Certainly not because so many people act like I ought to stop. Those people who do decide to limit themselves to one or two, taking occasionally extreme measures to ensure that their family never grows again, have their own reasons. Health. Finances. Space. Mental health. Their reasons are between the spouses and God. Please, stop assuming that I must look at it the same way. Don't ask if we're getting the husband "snipped" after this (He's my husband, not some randy dog who keeps jumping the fence. What an insulting thing to ask.)
It's even harder to keep friendly in this type of conversation when the other person share how their husband had the vascetomy only a week after the baby was born. They seem so proud of it, like this unneccessary operation, which has forever altered their spouse, which may not be reversible if they change their minds, is an intrinsic good. I remember holding my first baby. She filled my arms and my world and I was sure that I would never want for another thing forever and ever amen. Then she grew up. It probably isn't inevitable, but for those who have sterilized themselves so quickly after a birth, how do they feel when the baby turns one and is toddling off? Is there ever some pang of regret, some sense of wishing for one more, one more chance to swaddle and cuddle (and yes, become sleep-deprived and nutsy from exhaustion)? It's hard, with that first or second babe-in-arms to look forward and think, "I will want to do this again. I don't want to end it here." Isn't the outlook after birth a little different than that a year later, or two? With the decision made, the cut finished, the tubes tied, the process complete, the only road back is harder, fraught with tougher decisions that it would be before. It is cutting off potential as well as flesh.
So for the record: We are not stopping after this child. We don't know how many we want. Children come one at a time (usually) and we can decide one at a time. We will consult God about it, one at a time. In the end, He has the final say. Had my parents' planning gone well, I would not be here. Neither would my younger brother. My parents then would have no grandchildren. I don't think they regret at all that they had four instead of two. If they had sterilized themselves after number two, though, they would never have known they they would be missing these children so much further along down the road. I can't help but think it would have left a hole they couldn't place. We won't cut off our future potential for the convenience of the present.